The world’s economic elite spent this week invoking fears of protectionism and the existential crisis facing globalisation while avoiding any mention of Donald Trump by name.
But the US presidential candidate and his anti-establishment politics have loomed large at this week’s annual meetings in Washington of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. He has been a sort of Voldemort for the global economic order — like the villain in Harry Potter, his name is spoken only in hushed tones and behind closed doors.
“It is terrifying,” said one senior official of the prospect of a Trump victory in the November 8 election before laying out a scenario in which a President Trump would lead the US into a default on its debts, the collapse of the dollar and US treasuries as safe haven assets and the tumbling of the global economy into a 1930s-like crisis.
Mr Trump has raised the possibility of trying to renegotiate the terms of the US sovereign debt much as he did repeatedly with his own business debts as a property developer. He also has proposed imposing punitive tariffs on imports from China and Mexico and ripping up existing US trade pacts.